After a wild and crazy afternoon yesterday which saw tempers flare and tension rising, the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds will battle for a series win at Great American Ballpark this afternoon. First pitch is at 1:10 ET.
Right-hander Jeff Hoffman makes his Reds debut this afternoon. The Reds traded Robert Stephenson and Jameson Hannah to the Colorado Rockies for him in November. His career numbers aren’t great, but he has spent his entire career in Colorado. He was the ninth overall draft pick in 2014, so he has to have some talent, however. That leaves the question: how much of his struggles were due to Coors Field?
As a fringe player trying to make the team, Hoffman pitched a lot during spring training. In 18.0 innings, he gave up 17 runs on 20 hits, including three home runs. He also walked seven. If you’re looking for a bright spot, he did strike out 16 batters. If you’re wondering why the Reds traded for him, well, he ranks in the 83rd percentile for fastball spin and the 55th percentile for curveball spin. Spincinnati strikes again. Hoffman’s in the rotation temporarily until Sonny Gray or Michael Lorenzen returns, but we’ll see if Derek Johnson can work his magic on him.
Hoffman only has three pitches: a four-seam fastball, a change up and a curve. His fastball tops out in the 94 mph range and is his primary pitch. He uses the change-up mostly to lefties, but his curve ball has the largest whiff rate of the three at 36.0% (albeit at a smaller sample size).
As bad as Hoffman was in 2020, Carlos Martínez might have been worse. However, he did spend most of the 60-game season on the 10-day injured list. He pitched about 20.0 innings in September, but got rocked in almost every start. He went back on the 10-day injured list at the end of September for an oblique strain. It just never came together for him last season.
Of the five games he appeared in last season, his best performance probably came against the Reds on September 13. He pitched four innings and gave up three runs on six hits, including one home run. He walked two and struck out eight. The Reds ended up winning that game, in what would be the first win of the six-game winning streak to put them into the playoffs.
Martínez has five pitches in his arsenal, but mostly uses his four-seam fastball and his slider. The slider has been one of his best pitches since he added it in 2017. His whiff rate with it has consistently been close to or over 40 percent in the last three years, with the exception of last year.
Martínez has two All-Star seasons in his career and has been a consistent pitcher throughout his career. He’s bounced back and forth between closer and starter. In 2019, he saved 24 games for the Cardinals as their closer. He has the ability to be a really good pitcher. This afternoon will be the first test for him to see if his struggles were in fact injury-related or indicative of something more.
Stats are from 2020
St. Louis Cardinals
|Tommy Edman – 2B||Tyler Naquin – LF|
|Paul Goldschmidt – 1B||Nick Castellanos – RF|
|Nolan Arenado – 3B||Joey Votto – 1B|
|Paul DeJong – SS||Eugenio Suárez – SS|
|Tyler O’Neill – LF||Mike Moustakas – 3B|
|Yadier Molina – C||Nick Senzel – CF|
|Dylan Carlson – CF||Jonathan India – 2B|
|Justin Williams – RF||Tyler Stephenson – C|
|Carlos Martinez – SP||Jeff Hoffman – SP|
News and Notes
Jesse Winker is out of the lineup today after leaving the game yesterday while not feeling well. David Bell said this morning (10:30am) that he had not yet spoken to Winker today, but he was out of the lineup based on how he felt yesterday. He hopes to have him available today, but he wasn’t sure yet.
If you missed the news yesterday, Sonny Gray and Shogo Akiyama are both headed to the alternate site in Louisville to rehab their injuries. There’s no stated timetable for either to return yet.
Why was Nick Castellanos ejected yesterday and Yadier Molina wasn’t? Doug Gray breaks it all down for you here.
Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote a piece today about what’s it’s like for the Japanese reporters who have one job: Cover Shogo Akiyama. It’s an interesting look at how things can be when you are only writing about one specific player rather than the entire team.